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A Place I Love: Dublin by Aifric O’Leary-Deane

Posted on 9 May 2023

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Sunset over the Liffey. Image Credit: Aifric O’Leary-Deane

A place I love is Dublin city in the springtime. My favourite time of year is from mid-March, just after St Patrick’s Day, until the end of May when at long last the dark, cold winter begins to fade and we start to remember what sunlight feels like on our faces again. The clocks go forward, the cherry blossoms come out and optimistic Dubliners prematurely shed their winter coats.

There is a palpable buzz in the air at this time of year. The banks of the canals fill with sun-starved people in raincoats hoping to lap up some vitamin D for the 15 minutes the sun decides to show face. The streets in the city centre come alive as the evenings lengthen and post-work pints become a daily ritual. Over-excited students who should be locked up in the library are instead lounging in cafes and parks debating whether their degree is worth missing the blue skies for. All over the city trees start to grow baby leaves, flowers bloom and people come out of their winter hibernation.

On particularly sunny days I often find myself gravitating towards Drury Street in the south inner city to meet friends. We usually start by meeting for a late morning coffee which quickly turns into lunch, another coffee, and then as soon as is socially acceptable, a pint. We can sit for hours, chatting about nothing or intensely gossiping or just sitting quietly and people watching. These long leisurely days are often punctuated by random encounters with old friends and familiar Dublin faces passing through, resulting in excited spontaneous catch-ups or awkward nods and waves. 

Connecting Stephen Street lower to Exchequer Street, Drury Street is crossed perpendicularly by Fade Street, Castle Market and George’s Street Arcade, connecting it to South William Street and South Great George’s Street. This area of Dublin has an incredibly rich history and boasts an array of beautifully juxtaposed Georgian and Victorian architecture. From the impressive Powerscourt townhouse that dominates South William Street, to the ornate, gothic inspired towers and turrets lining Fade Street, Drury Street and Castle Market, the variety of architecture styles gives this quarter of Dublin a unique feel that I love and makes for an aesthetically pleasing backdrop to lazy spring days with friends.

Drury Street was pedestrianised during the pandemic to facilitate safe outdoor socialising and it has since been transformed into a hub of vibrant cafes, wine bars, trendy lunch spots and design shops. I have spent a lot of time on Drury Street recently since I started working nearby and I love to see how the area changes from the early mornings, to the lunchtime rush, to the evening buzz. On a sunny spring day, when the hipsters flock to sit on the Powerscourt steps, Grogans pub clientele spill out onto Castle Market and the Fade Street bars come alive, Drury Street, which ties them all together, becomes the beating heart of the city. This vibrant area of Dublin city will always be special to me because it is a place that epitomises the springtime joy I love so much.

I left Dublin to study in Brussels and Turin after the pandemic and something I have realised is that there is nothing that makes you feel love for where you come from more than moving away from that place. I enjoyed my time abroad, but it did also give me a newfound appreciation for my own city for which I will always be grateful. 

Photo collage of Drury, Fade, South William Streets and Castle Market. Image Credit: Aifric O’Leary-Deane

Aifric is a student in her second year of a Masters in Urban Studies based in Brussels. Having graduated from Trinity with a BA in European Studies she has lived in Siena, Brussels, Turin and Dublin and has a keen interest in placemaking and participation in urban design. She is currently doing an internship with the Irish Georgian Society in Dublin who work to conserve Ireland’s architectural heritage.